UAPB’s Byrd tabbed Preseason Player of the Year;
AAMU’s Gladness named Preseason Defensive Player of the Year

swac.gifThe Southwestern Athletic Conference announced its men’s basketball preseason honors for the upcoming 2007-08 season. In a poll conducted by the conference office in which votes were received from the league’s head coaches and sports information directors, Arkansas-Pine Bluff forward William Byrd was named preseason player of the year.

Byrd – a 6-foot-7 senior from Tutwiler, Miss. – had a spectacular campaign, leading the Lions to a conference tournament semifinal appearance. In a conference dominated by guard play last season, Byrd led the Golden Lions in scoring (13.0 ppg), rebounds (7.5 rpg), blocks (2.52 bpg) and steals (1.32 spg). In addition he also dished out 47 assists. He was ninth in the conference in scoring and steals, third in rebounding, second in field goal percentage and blocked shots. He had four 20-point performances last season including a 20-point, 10-rebound effort versus Texas Southern.

The preseason defensive player of the year selection for the second consecutive season was Alabama A&M’s Mickell Gladness. After a 2005-06 season when he was the conference leader (12th in NCAA) in blocked shots averaging 2.96 blocks per contest, last season – 2006-2007 – he continued to show his prowess on the defensive end of the court. He led the nation in blocked shots and earned SWAC Defensive Player of the Year honors, along with being named first-team all-conference. The 6-foot-11, 205-pound senior from Sylacauga, Ala., set the NCAA single-game record for blocks with 16 against Texas Southern and finished the season averaging 6.3 per game. His 188 blocks as a junior is the third-highest single-season total in the history of the NCAA. As a junior, he averaged 7.6 points and 7.6 rebounds per contest (second in the conference).

Joining Gladness and Byrd on the preseason first-team are Texas Southern forward Jacques Jones, Grambling State guard Andre Ratliff and Mississippi Valley State guard Stanford Speech.

Receiving second-team honors were guards Andrew Hayles (Alabama State) and Trant Simpson (Alabama A&M), forwards Anthony Williams (Grambling State) and Grant Maxey (Jackson State) and center Jamal Breaux (Grambling State).

Preseason First-Team
G Andre Ratliff # Grambling State 5-10 175 Sr. Pontiac, Mich.
G Stanford Speech * Mississippi Valley State 6-2 190 Sr. Jackson, Miss.
C Mickell Gladnes * Alabama A&M 6-11 205 Sr. Sylacauga, Ala.
F William Byrd * Arkansas-Pine Bluff 6-7 180 Sr. Tutwiler, Miss.
F Jacques Jones # Texas Southern 6-8 200 Sr. Houston, Texas
Preseason Second-Team
G Andrew Hayles Alabama State 6-5 200 Jr. Mobile, Ala.
G Trant Simpson 1 Alabama A&M 5-10 160 So. Huntsville, Ala.
C Jamal Breaux Grambling State 6-7 250 Jr. Reserve, La.
F Anthony Williams * Grambling State 6-7 207 Sr. East San Jose, Calif.
F Grant Maxey Jackson State 6-7 180 So. Toledo, Ohio
Preseason Defensive Player of the Year
C Mickell Gladness Alabama A&M 6-11 205 Sr. Sylacauga, Ala.
Preseason Player of the Year
F William Byrd Arkansas-Pine Bluff 6-7 180 Sr. Tutwiler, Miss.

* – indicates 2006-07 first-team selection
# – indicates 2006-07 second-team selection
1 – Simpson was 2006-07 SWAC Freshman of the Year



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